The Wizard may be retired but he’s still trying to make magic. And I love him for it.
Ozzie Smith, the hall of fame shortstop who once played for the St. Louis Cardinals, known for doing a backflip when he was announced before the game, has started a petition to make the opening day of the Major League season a national holiday.
Now, before you snigger and cast this aside let me explain why this actually makes sense.
Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser recently did a survey that said 200,000 people have admitted to skipping work in order to watch Opening Day or attend a game on that day. Considering that Budweiser’s website isn’t an extremely popular one like Facebook or ESPN, this number is rather staggering. It is pretty safe to assume that this number would be significantly higher if all people in the United States were asked this question.
Also important to remember is one simple fact: baseball is America’s pastime.
It’s a cheesy retort, but in this case it definitely applies. Baseball is not the biggest sport anymore but it nonetheless is representative of a time when life was different. Life was slower and people took time to enjoy things. Baseball can, at times, be a slow game but that is part of the beauty of it.
In a larger sense, baseball is the start of summer. The summer solstice actually takes place on June 21 but for many Americans the first pitch of the year marks the beginning of summer.
The process for making it the twelfth federal holiday isn’t easy but it starts off rather simple. If the petition, which was created Feb. 25, receives 100,000 signatures—online of course—within 30 days it automatically goes before the eyes of Barack Obama and his administration.
Considering that 200,000 people have admitted on Budweiser’s website to skipping work in order to watch the games this is not an unbelievable goal to achieve. What makes things tougher is that it must also be passed on to legislators and senators who need to agree it should become a holiday.
I will admit that the odds are not in favor of this passing but there is merit to the idea. Baseball is a sport built on relationships and features numerous historical moments that go beyond the lines. There’s Jackie Robinson who everyone knows but there was also Glenn Burke. He was actually the first gay athlete in a major American sport and he played in the late 1970s.
Baseball is a historical sport that represents the heart and soul of America. Its popularity has decreased but Opening Day is as big as ever. According to ESPN in 2013 Opening Day viewership increased by 51 percent.
This is evidence that baseball is still alive and growing. Baseball needs to be a federal holiday. If Christopher Columbus gets a federal holiday, baseball should too.